Aug. 10--Bonhams auction house could be sold to China'sPoly Culture, which has emerged as one of the frontrunners bidding for the company.
City sources said several heavyweight private equity firms -- including Bridgepoint and CVC Capital Partners, one of the biggest shareholders in Formula 1 -- have dropped out of the sale process, leaving the China-based firm in pole position.
Poly Culture is China's largest auction house. It was formerly a subsidiary of the Poly Group, which is controlled by the Chinese government and has business interests ranging from property to arms exports.
The 200-year-old Bonhams is currently owned by Dutch collector Evert Louwman and chairman Robert Brooks.
They hired bankers from US advisory firm Greenhill earlier this year to find a buyer for the business, which is best known for selling fine art, classic cars and antiques.
It is not clear what the final selling price will be, but some reports have claimed the company is likely to change hands for 'several hundred million pounds'.
Poly Culture was floated on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in March, the first time a major Chinese auction house has been listed outside mainland China.
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